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Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia

Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia

First Edition
Edited by:
  • David Gellner - Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford, UK

September 2009 | 376 pages | SAGE Publications Pvt. Ltd
This volume is the second in the Governance, Conflict, and Civic Action series. To discuss the state of civil society, the 10 articles in Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia present case studies of different kinds of ethnic ('communal') activism in South Asia covering countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, and India-with Darjeeling, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu, in particular. The articles examine Hindu nationalism, Dalit activism in India, Janjati movement in Nepal, and the transnational connections among them, and discuss common ideals such as emphasis on the involvement of youth, assertion of pride and masculinity, desire to resist injustice, importance of land and belonging, and so on.

The South Asian civil society is a site of constant struggle. In this volume, the focus is not on one nation and the 'methodological nationalism' in the region but on all South Asian nations. It shows how the ethnic activists wrestle with official classifications and categories of daily, traditional practices and attempt to turn them to their advantage. It also argues for the treatment of the differing categories of ethnic movements together, which are otherwise generally treated in isolation.

This volume will be an ideal reference material for those involved in the study of ethnicity, sociology, political science, anthropology and South Asian studies.

David N Gellner
Introduction: How Civil are 'Communal' and Ethno-nationalist Movements?
Minoru Mio
Young Men's Public Activities and Hindu Nationalism: Naviyuvak Mandals and the Sangh Parivar in a Western Indian Town
Peggy Froerer
Activists and Adivasis: Hindu Nationalist Militants in Chhattisgarh, Central India
Eva Gerharz
Re-constructing Jaffna: Transnational Tamil Activism at Local Interfaces
Sara B Shneiderman
Ethnic (P)reservations: Comparing Thangmi Ethnic Activism in Nepal and India
Hugo Gorringe
Becoming a Dalit Panther: Caste-based Activism in South India
David Mosse
Christian Dalit Activism in Contemporary Tamil Nadu
Laurie Ann Vasily
Struggles against Domination: Forms of Nepali Dalit Activism
Gisèle Krauskopff
Intellectuals and Ethnic Activism: Writings on the Tharu Past
Mukta S Tamang
Tamang Activism, History, and Territorial Consciousness
Marie Lecomte-Tilouine
Ruling Social Groups-from Species to Nations: Reflections on Changing Conceptualizations of Caste and Ethnicity in Nepal
Glossary and Abbreviations

This book is a valuable collection of essays which looks at the multi-faceted interactions between ethnic activism, civil society and states in South Asia, particularly India and Nepal and the several tensions and contradictions that characterize these interactions. It is a valuable ethnographic study of the internal dynamics (and their interaction with external dynamics) that shape and mutate ethnic identities in the sub-continent…. Ethnic Activism and Civil Society in South Asia will be useful not just to sociologists, but also political scientists who may be unable to see the multitude currents of ethnic tension that run beneath political waters. It will also be of interest and use to those involved in the study of ethnicity, anthropology, and more broadly, the South Asian region.

Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies

These are six well-researched articles on ethnic activism in South Asia. A fairly wide range has been examined…. At a time when South Asia is bubbling over with ethnic aspirations, this is an important collection of contemporary insights into the politics of identity behind activism in South Asia.

Civil Society

The volume…takes a bold and clear but contentious position…. This volume would be of interest to the students of civil society, ethnicity and politics. One appreciable thing…is the uniformly lucid style of presentation of rich empirical material and conceptual issues in the entire volume, which is rare to find in an edited book.

Sociological Bulletin

The book is a must-read for those who maintain a profound interest in civil society issues and, yes, it should be sought out by young men and women desirous of becoming activists themselves…the book offers rare insight and a definitive sense of the road we can take for energising social activism.


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ISBN: 9788132100867

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